Assalamualaikum, I’m confused, why do some people say the Quran is revealed all at once while others state that it is revealed in stages?
Waalaikumussalam wrt, wbt.,
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
In answering this question related to nuzul al-Quran, we should first understand the story of nuzul al-Quran that we have discussed in our previous article. We stated:
The Meaning of Nuzul al-Quran
The literal meaning of nuzul means staying in a certain place or descending from a high place. Its verb form nazala (نزل) means ‘he descended’ or ‘he becomes a visitor’. Actually, the usage of the terminology nuzul al-Quran is through majaz or (symbolic) which means the announcement of al-Quran. The purpose is to show the great and high distinction and status of the Quran.
Technically, nuzul al-Quran means the revelation of the Quran from the heavens to the last prophet of Allah. Among the evidences on the revelation of the Quran is:
وَبِالْحَقِّ أَنزَلْنَاهُ وَبِالْحَقِّ نَزَلَ ۗ وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا مُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا
“And with the truth We have sent the Qur'an down, and with the truth it has descended. And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a bringer of good tidings and a warner.”
Surah al-Isra’ (105)
The statement that the Quran is sent down in stages or all at once in truth are not contradictions to each other. However, both are true, for the Quran is revealed in stages and all at once. This can be understood when we analyse the following discussion on this matter.
Sheikh Abdul Azim al-Zarqani said the revelation of the Quran is divided into three stages. See Manahil al-Irfan fi Ulum al-Quran (1/39)
- The first stage, the Quran is sent down all at once and when this actually happened is only known by Allah SWT. This is explained in the statement of Allah SWT:
بَلْ هُوَ قُرْآنٌ مَّجِيدٌ ﴿٢١﴾ فِي لَوْحٍ مَّحْفُوظٍ
“But this is an honored Qur'an. [Inscribed] in a Preserved Slate (Luh Mahfuz).”
Surah al-Buruj (21-22)
In commenting the above verses, Imam al-Qurtubi and al-Tabari said Luh Mahfuz is by Allah SWT side and protected, where the shaytan cannot reach it. See al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Quran (10/196), Jami’ al-Bayan fi Takwil al-Quran (12/531).
- The second stage is when the Quran is sent from the Luh Mahfuz to Bait al-‘Izzah or the skies of the earth. This is explained by Allah SWT:
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ
“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an,”
Surah al-Baqarah (185)
Imam al-Qurtubi said the scholars agreed and there is no khilaf on the meaning of the verse which is the Quran is sent down all at once from Luh Mahfuz to the skies of the earth on the night of Qadar. See al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Quran (2/297).
- The third stage is the revelation of the Quran from the skies of the earth to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, it is sent in stages through the angel Gabriel AS. This is mentioned in the verse of the Quran:
“The Trustworthy Spirit has brought it down. Upon your heart, [O Muhammad] - that you may be of the warners - In a clear Arabic language.”
Surah al-Syu’ara’ (193-195)
According to the above discussion, we would like to state that the Quran is revealed all at once in the first two stages where it is sent down to the Luh Mahfuz and then to the Bait al-Izzah or the skies of the earth. This is what is meant in verses of the Quran where Allah SWT stated the Quran is sent down all at once.
As for when the Quran is revealed in stages, it is when the Quran is revealed from the skies of the earth to the Messenger PBUH starting from the first revelation sent to the Prophet PBUH until the last revelation that he received.
Hopefully, we will all be blessed with guidance to understand and practise everything that has been revealed in the Quran. Amin.